Food & Beverage

Transfat ban just the beginning: Whole Foods boss

Searching for trans fats in Whole Foods
Searching for trans fats in Whole Foods

Consumers won't find any foods with artificial transfats in Whole Foods Market stores, the co-chief executive of the grocery chain told CNBC on Friday.

The assertion by Walter Robb of Whole Foods in a "Squawk Box" interview followed news that the Food and Drug Administration proposed banning transfats in processed food ranging from cookies to frozen pizza on safety concerns. The agency said Thursday that reducing the consumption of these fats could prevent 20,000 heart attacks and 7,000 deaths from heart disease a year.

(Read more: FDA to ban artery-clogging transfats)

Robb predicted that "as time progresses more and more of these sorts of issues are going to come out, where you're going to see the linkage between some of these preservatives and ingredients and the quality of the food."

"We'll get you a delicious cinnamon roll without the transfats," he said in response to a question about whether the government should be making these kinds of decisions for consumers.

A customer shops for produce at a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco.
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Transfats are a byproduct of partially hydrogenated oils—a chemical process that converts liquid vegetable oils into solid or semisolid fats, which are used to extend the shelf life of certain foods and improve the taste and texture of others.

The Grocery Manufacturers Association told Reuters that food makers have voluntarily lowered the amounts of transfats by more than 73 percent since 2005, in part by reformulating their products. The FDA said the average daily intake of transfats by Americans fell from 4.6 grams a day in 2003 to 1 gram in 2012.

This latest move by the FDA is not the first public effort to ban transfats. New York City banned the use of them in restaurants, including their use in deep-frying foods. Many restaurants and fast food chains, including McDonald's, have eliminated their use.

(Read more: Transfat ban in the works at many food companies)

If the FDA proposal becomes final after a 60-day public comment period, artificial transfats would effectively be prohibited. But those occurring naturally in small amounts in certain meat and dairy products would not be banned.

—By CNBC's Matthew J. Belvedere. Follow him on Twitter @Matt_SquawkCNBC.